Sunday, January 24, 2010

R.I.P. Ruby

We lost our dog Ruby today. Yesterday she was fine, and today she was just dead, with no warning. She was getting to be fairly old for such a large dog, but still, apart from a little stiffness in her hips lately, she hadn't shown any signs that anything was wrong, so this came as a surprise.

When Ken and I first moved to Virginia, long before we bought our farm, we rented a house with a lot of land, and before long started talking about getting a dog. We discussed what kind of dog we would like, looked at all the pictures in dog breed books, and still couldn't quite decide what kind of dog we'd like.

Finally, after much debate, I said, "It doesn't matter what kind of dog we get. When we're ready for a dog, the right dog will come along."

The VERY NEXT DAY a litter of puppies was abandoned on our property. We figured one of those must be "the right dog." Out of the four, we picked Ruby as the one we'd keep.

She was smart, a little bit shy, and (usually) very obedient. I taught her many tricks. The normal ones, like Sit, Stay, Down, etc. But also others like Shake Hands, Speak, Growl, Crawl, and Shut the Door.

After about a year, it was obvious that Ruby was lonely, so we went to a shelter and got her a border collie cross, Jesse, as a companion. They made friends instantly, and have been companions ever since that day.

When we moved to the farm, they shared the large shed and 1/3 acre run we gave them, and spent many happy days romping together.

So, sad as it may be that she's gone, she had a good life and appears to have had a quick, relatively painless death, since we found her just lying in her shed as if she was resting.

Could be a lot of worse fates for a dog. Could be a lot of worse fates for any of us. And we'll always remember her fondly as "The Right Dog."

Goodbye Ruby. Rest in Peace.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Trainer Who Starved My Horses Claims Another Victim

Remember when I posted back in June about the Trainer Who Starved My Horses?

Well, not long ago I was contacted by another horse owner who had almost the exact same experience with the very same trainer. One of her horses DIED, and another was severely malnourished.

Here's her story.

Now the trainer has moved to a whole new farm with a new website, with lots of pretty pictures to make everything look clean, happy, and professional. As if nothing was ever wrong. As if the suffering, starvation, and death of dozens of horses could just be erased by a change of location.

It makes me sick!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ultra the Fairy Sheep

Thanks to my Midwinter Half Price Sale, I've sold about a dozen sheep in the past few weeks, and have inquiries about more.

I hate to turn customers away, since all the money I make right now will go to pay for hay to feed the flock until spring. So I've been looking over my flock, trying to figure out who I would be willing to part with.

For a while, I had put Ultra on the sales list. But at the last minute, I just couldn't do it. She's a lovable pest, but she's my flock's ambassador to any farm visitors, because she will snuggle up and let ANYBODY pet her. So I guess I'll keep her a while longer. At least long enough to see what kind of lambs she'll give me in the spring.

For those of you who haven't met her yet, here is Ultra, the Fairy Sheep:

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wet-Felted Soap and Beads

After getting used to needle felting for the past month, I decided yesterday that it was time to try a bit of easy wet-felting. I'd attempted wet felting a couple of times before, with poor results, so I didn't want to try anything too complicated this time around.

First, I made a felted bar of soap. Based on the directions I had read online---and my previous unsuccessful felting experiments---I was prepared for the process to take a long time. I was amazed when it took almost no time at all!

I fluffed up the wool into a criss-crossed mat, wrapped it around a bar of our sheep's milk soap, dipped it in warm water, and gently rubbed the wool. In almost no time at all, it had formed a felted case around the soap.

The next test was to see how the felted soap worked, so today I took it in the shower with me. I was very pleased with the gentle exfoliating action of the wool. It had just the right amount of scrubbiness, like a good washcloth.

I'm used to using store-bought shower gel, so I had to remind myself that our sheep's milk soap is olive-oil based, which means that it cleans really well but it doesn't produce lots of big, showy lather. I got plenty clean, I just had to not expect a lot of bubbles. At this rate, the bar of soap is going to last a long, long time!

My second little experiment with wet felting was to make a couple of wool beads. I've been making wool beads by needle felting, and I wanted to see how the wet felted ones compared.

I just took a little wad of wool, got my hands wet and soapy, and rolled the wool around and around between my palms until the wool formed a sphere. Again, the process worked fairly quickly. Much more quickly than when I make the needle felted beads.

Visually, the two types of beads look nearly identical. In this photo, there's a handful of needle felted beads at the top, and two wet felted beads at the bottom.

The difference, though, is in the feel of the beads. The needle felted beads are sturdier and more evenly and thoroughly felted all the way through, while the wet felted beads were a bit softer and without quite as much structural integrity.

So, my verdict is a thumbs up for the wet felted soap, but I'll be sticking with needle felting for my beads.